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  • Talli-ho! The hunt for Planet X (or a neighbourig black hole?) is afoot!

    Home Forums Outside the box Fun Stuff Talli-ho! The hunt for Planet X (or a neighbourig black hole?) is afoot!

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      • #2354812
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Some more recent (*) News of the Weird:

        Percival Lowell, back in the late 19th century, built the Lowell Observatory with a very large telescope in Flagstaff, Arizona and thought, among other interesting things, hat he was seeing the huge canals built by Martians, that have been described by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, still alive and very advanced technologically in their drying up planet, to carry water to their fields and cities from the icy poles.
        This was long-suspected to be an optical illusion and was shown to be so when the first NASA probes took close pictures of Mars, showing it to look more like the Moon, with no canals anywhere, to the general disappointment.

        https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210216-the-massive-planet-scientists-cant-find

        The last years of his life were dedicated to finding a new and very distant huge planet in the Solar System: “Planet X”, then thought to be the reason for odd anomalies in the orbits of the farthest from the Sun then known: Uranus and Neptune.
        Years later, another astronomer discovered Pluto using the same telescope at Lowell. But Pluto was soon known to be too small to explain the orbits of the two outer planets. In his will (and much contested by his widow), Lowell left an endowment for a $1,000,00 prize to be given to whoever found Planet X.
        The search has continued to this day, and the likeliest candidate now is some massive object responsible for the unusually elongated orbits of a number of objects, including several recently discovered dwarf planets beyond Pluto, and several other smaller objects mostly made of ice, in the distant region of the Solar System known as the Kuiper belt, beyond which lies, at the fringes of the system, the Oort Cloud and then interstellar space.

        According to the BBC’s article, there are several possible ways a massive object might lurk in a region of space too large to observe with much chance of success and too dim to see, as it would get hundreds of thousands of times less sunlight than we do on Earth. But there is some promise of a more successful future search when a new kind of telescope becomes operational in the near future.

        One idea is that it might be a giant planet, about ten times more massive than our own, perhaps “stolen” from another star that got too close to the Sun.

        Not mentioned in the article, but I believe it is also a possible explanation, is that it used to be one of the zillions of dark planets kicked out of their own star systems by gravitational interactions with other planets there, and then supposed to wander alone, endlessly through space, until this one got too close to the Sun and was snared by its gravitational pull while either still as far as it might be today, or else when much closer and then got moved outwards by gravitational interactions with Jupiter and the other big planets beyond it.

        But there are other, even stranger ideas afoot, according to the BBC article:

        Some other plausible replacements for planet nine include a small ball of ultra-concentrated dark matter, or a primordial black hole. As black holes are among the most dense objects in the Universe, Unwin [one of the astronomers occupied in this newest search for Plane X] explains that it’s entirely possible the latter could be warping the orbits of distant objects in the outer solar system.

        So far, suggestions include looking for the gamma rays that are emitted by objects as they fall into black holes, or releasing a constellation of hundreds of tiny spacecraft, which might – if we’re lucky – pass close enough so that they’d be pulled towards it ever-so-fractionally, and accelerate by a detectable amount.

        Since the mysterious gravitational pull is emanating from the farthest reaches of our solar system, the probes would have to be sent via an Earthbound laser array, which could propel them to 20% of the speed of light. If they travelled any slower, they might take hundreds of years to arrive – an experiment that would, naturally, stretch well beyond a human lifetime

        As it happens, these futuristic spacecraft are already being developed for another ambitious mission, the “Breakthrough Starshot” project, which aims to send them to the Alpha Centauri star system, 4.37 light-years away.

        So, is this weird enough for you?

        (*) “News of the Weird” used to be (and I believe still is, in some form) a syndicated column that run in some newspapers with unusual real-life stories of unlikely events that happened mostly to unlikely people.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • This topic was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by OscarCP.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2354819
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        Very interesting and not too weird, sounds good to me.  20% of light speed is much better than the ~35,000 mph that rockets do with gravitational assists from planets.  I was so hoping that one of the planetary missions (Voyager, Juno, Cassini) would have found a stable wormhole in the vicinity of Jupiter or Saturn.  That may have provided a ray of hope for humanity finding the planet(s) it needs to survive.

        I really think this is what we should be doing instead of digging around in asteroids and comets for the origins of life.  Even if we do find evidence that there once was life on Mars millions or billions of years ago, what good does that really do us?

        • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Charlie.
        • #2354826
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Charlie: “Even if we do find evidence that there once was life on Mars millions or billions of years ago, what good does that really do us?

          If we found in some other world, or even in an itsy bitsy comet, just in the Solar System, the unshakable evidence of life of any kind at any time there, now or long ago, and of a life that definitely started outside our own home planet, that will turn some very old and always lively philosophical speculation into scientifically established fact: life is, or has been possible, under certain conditions that might not be all that unusual, in other worlds, perhaps throughout the Universe. Because, so far, we know of only one such place, and if you look around wherever you may be right now, you’ll see it. It will also help us understand how it is possible for life to appear anywhere at all.

          Besides, such expensive undertakings as those of exploring other planets will also have other goals, including understanding better the nature, origins, evolution and possible final destiny of the Solar System and of our own Earth along with it.

          But, more recently and I hope even more so in the not too distant future, the missions to other worlds will be also meant to search for valuable metals and other natural resources in them that are rare on Earth, adding a much needed profit motive to the exploration of outer space. Governments will continue to fund, for many years to come, much of the hardware development, both directly and indirectly with grants to private companies (as practically is the case now, however the deals may be called), as well as sharing the inventions of their scientists and engineers, that is to say their know-how, with such companies, while still making much of the basic engineering work and also building their own spacecraft to continue sending forth their own missions. But if something like a real human civilization will ever come to be elsewhere in the Solar System, there will have to be money to be made (and plenty of it, to cover the very great costs necessary and still end in the black and with a good profit to show for it) in order to motivate enough people to do what may be necessary for that. This has been always the way, unless one counts people moving out into another (usually into somebody else’s) land, due to a lack of places to live, or at least to live well, or fleeing invading hordes. This is going on now, as you might have noticed, and as to a flight to other planets, well, it also might come to that (except for the hordes, maybe), the way things are going, quite frankly.

          So whatever else motivates those in charge of deciding what to do next in outer space, searching for life elsewhere is generally accepted by many of them as a sufficient reason for considering spending a few tens or even a few hundreds of billions of Dollars, or Euros, or Yuan, or Yen, or Rubles, or Rupees, … to find out what is going on in Mars, or even in itsy bitsy comets. Not to mention to do this also as a demonstration of national superiority and as a matter of national pride.

          Meantime, whatever is Planet X, if it is anything at all, it awaits in the cold outer darkness for us to come by and say “hello.”

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2354838
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        It took the New Horizon Mission nine years to reach Pluto with present day rockets and gravitational assists from a few planets to increase the speed. Taking this long to get to Pluto and even longer to get to the Oort cloud is simply too slow and time consuming.  It was and is, however, a brilliant ongoing endeavor and accomplishment.  Even so, we need to be thinking about how to find inhabitable planets to ease the burden on Earth from an ever increasing, resource depleting, human population.

        Going out to a Planet X even with gravitational assist, could take a very long time, and there’s not a very good chance of finding life on a rogue planet that far out in the deep freeze of deep space.  You mentioned starting mining operations on asteroids, moons, and planets. I think this is an excellent idea, and I’ve been waiting to hear that this is being considered. As you said, the rewards of finding large quantities of “rare earth” elements would help offset the cost.

      • #2354846
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Our own Moon is another world, a pretty big one at that and with nasty enough conditions on its surface to be a good place where to learn how to live and work anywhere else than Earth, in places people are not supposed to last more than a few agonizing minutes without more protective equipment than deep-sea divers on the sea-floor need to stay alive and do something useful while at it.

        But never fear, whatever valuable resources the Moon might have, and whatever practical uses being there might make possible to further explorers and miners, there are some interesting places not on it but inside it:
        Possibly enormous lava tubes, formed when the original vast molten lava seas that covered the Maria, the huge dark surfaces easily seen on it with the naked eye or with a small telescope, started to freeze into solid rock and pockets of molted lava high up emptied to lower places creating the tubes as it solidified, leaving vast caverns with mostly flat floors. Those also exist in Mars due to its intensely volcanic past.
        Because of the lower gravity of both the Moon and Mars, the caverns can be much bigger than their counterparts on Earth, and these can be pretty big to start with.

        The environment on the surface of either world is very unhealthy for tendered-bodied humans, what with the little but lethally fast meteors showering it and the hard cosmic radiation with too little or none of an atmosphere, or of a substantial magnetic field to shield people there from such hazards by stopping or, in the case of energetic cosmic radiation, deflecting their lethal showers.

        Several possible practical uses of this caves have been proposed and are being studied. I myself have been doing some work on detecting and mapping them from space with a highly sensitive instrument capable of measuring from orbit the differences in the gravity field of the Moon on top and around of these caverns as there is less matter there, being empty inside, so the gravity pull is less.

        Among other possible uses of the huge lava tubes:

        Creating a gigantic seed bank, to preserve the otherwise fast disappearing biodiversity of the vegetal kingdom:

        https://apnews.com/article/biodiversity-tucson-arizona-caves-bdc7ee025550cf94d6c2d269954942ab

        “Jekan Thanga, a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and five of his students presented a paper earlier this month on the concept during the international IEEE Aerospace Conference, which was held virtually this year”

        “Natural underground caverns on the moon could be used to store frozen samples of Earth’s species in order to protect biodiversity in the event of global catastrophe, according to a University of Arizona scientist and his students.’

        “There’s nothing like that on planet Earth. There’s nothing as secure,” Thanga said, adding that it serves as “an insurance policy” in the event of global catastrophe.”

        Places where to set up bases protected from hard radiation and micrometeors, and perhaps some day even build cities there:

        https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/oct/19/lunar-cave-discovery-raises-hopes-for-human-colonisation-of-moon

        ” Scientists have fantasized for centuries about humans colonizing the moon. That day may have drawn a little closer after Japan’s space agency said it had discovered an enormous cave beneath the lunar surface that could be turned into an exploration base for astronauts.”

        “The discovery, by Japan’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) probe, comes as several countries vie to follow the US in sending manned missions to the moon.

        Using a radar sounder system that can examine underground structures, the orbiter initially found an opening 50 metres wide and 50 metres deep, prompting speculation that there could be a larger hollow. ”

        Some are not shy when speculating about how big future Moon and Mar settlers could go inside those huge caverns:

        “Mars is pockmarked with absolutely massive lava tubes, with ceilings as high as the Empire State Building, new research shows. And the moon hosts even more gargantuan tubes, with heights that dwarf Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and “skylights” as big as football fields.”

        “These yawning, subterranean caverns, which are shielded from punishing solar radiation, could be used as sites for future human bases, scientists argue.”

        https://www.livescience.com/lava-tubes-mars-and-moon-habitable.html

        And I say: I hope so; we shall see. Some day.

        one.use_.for_.a.lunar_.lava_.tube_

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

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        • #2354950
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          Japan’s space agency said it had discovered an enormous cave beneath the lunar surface that could be turned into an exploration base for astronauts.”  Using a radar sounder system that can examine underground structures, the orbiter initially found an opening 50 metres wide and 50 metres deep, prompting speculation that there could be a larger hollow. ”

          That sounds good and I certainly wish everyone involved with it the best.  One of the first major things they will have to do in the caves on the Moon and Mars is establish a stable, pressurized Earth type atmosphere of nitrogen, oxygen, and some CO2 for any vegetation. There cannot be any leaks anywhere especially near the surface. Good atmosphere will escape through cracks, and on Mars, CO2 will work its way down because it is heavier than air. Vegetation may be enough to take care of that. The pressurized atmosphere will be a problem mainly on the Moon, and also on Mars.

          Another thought – after several generations are born on and allowed to stay on Mars, we will probably have human “Martians” that are easily 7 foot tall, maybe more, with less bone and muscle mass due to the lower gravity.

          • #2354978
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Charlie: “Another thought – after several generations are born on and allowed to stay on Mars, we will probably have human “Martians” that are easily 7 foot tall, maybe more, with less bone and muscle mass due to the lower gravity.”

            While the title of this thread that I made up myself is about “Planet X”, it is fair to say that one can say only so much about a hypothetical thing nobody has ever seen hide or hair of. So the more general and, I would think, interesting question of: Whence humanity in the ages to come? is a good one to discuss here as well, both its near-term possible answers, and its much longer term vistas we can only glimpse at today.

            The idea of humanity splitting into a variety of sub-species when inhabiting for generations very different environments from those in their original world, our own Earth, has been long a topic of some of the best science fiction, that is to say in works that truly belong to the literature of ideas.

            So, unless people in the 24th Century, besides warp drives and galactic empires and federations and replicators and Klingons and Klingon Birds-of-Prey and cloaking devices, also have a way of generating artificial gravity without moving parts, Martians will be tall and slender, Lunars (inhabitants of the Moon) will be even more so, and neither will be able to walk on Mother Earth without the assistance of some pretty ingenious motorized exoskeletons. And if people managed to live and thrive, somehow, on the solid hydrogen surface of Jupiter, after enough generations have passed, they will be really really short.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

            1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2355160
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        IMO it’s not a good idea for human beings to stay in no gravity (weightless) or low gravity (our Moon) for more than the astronauts on the ISS do.  I think it will be a very long time before we have artificial gravity like in Star Trek, so we will have to rely on centrifugal force to create an artificial gravity on spaceships traveling long distances.  This was demonstrated very well in the movie “2001 a Space Odyssey” on both the circular spinning space station and the spaceship that was traveling to Jupiter.  Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick did an excellent job on this.

      • #2355185
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Actually in low gravity on the Moon, Mars or any of the large Galilean ones and Titan, the lower gravity can be compensated, from the point of view of reducing their negative effects on  muscles, sinews and bones and making possible much longer stays there, by carrying weights on suits and, or shoes for sufficiently long periods of time every day.

        While evolution, over many generations, might bring about actual bodily adaptations, people will be able to live and work on those strange and life-unfriendly places well enough for a long time even without such physical changes. We can adapt not just physically, like other creatures, but culturally. This has been discused in such works of science fiction as the “Red Green, Blue, Mars” trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, for example.  And it is starting to happen right now, here on Earth, in places such as vulnerable ocean islands and in continental countries such as The Netherlands, trying to deal with the inexorably rising sea levels around the world. Others are started to awaken, elsewhere, to the need to take effective practical action and soon. For example, here in the Eastern USA, the mean sea level is going up faster than anywhere else in the world, as shown by scientific work using data from altimeters flown on satellites continuously and for many years now; ongoing work I am also part of and have been for almost half a century, since even before the very first of those satellites went into orbit, working at first on this mission’s preparation. So I would expect that, soon, those state governments traditionally friendly to housing-estate developers wanting to build more and more along the seaboard, are going to have to move from making noises to actually doing something to stop the inane rush to build beach houses and apartment buildings, practically whole long cities of them, right next to the beach, along the slowly but unstoppably rising sea, for example.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • #2355466
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          I agree that there are ways to adapt.

          I would expect that, soon, those state governments traditionally friendly to housing-estate developers wanting to build more and more along the seaboard, are going to have to move from making noises to actually doing something to stop the inane rush to build beach houses and apartment buildings, practically whole long cities of them, right next to the beach

          I’ve been hoping for many years that the inane development would stop along all water front land.  It may be slowing down a bit because of the increase in number and destructive power of hurricanes, etc., but it never completely stops.

          • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Charlie.
      • #2355503
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Some more on the question of “is there life in other worlds”? But also now on the next question that follows: how to find it, if it is out there?

        The search for signs of life in planets of star systems other than our on, started in the 1990’s with the discovery of the first such system: a very strange one, with planets orbiting a neutron star.
        Since then, planets around normal stars have been found in rapidly increasing numbers, now in the thousands, and some of them show faint indications that they might be habitable.
        Crucial to these findings have been the optical observatories with major telescopes that have come on line in the last two decades and also some of the space telescopes.

        The next major space telescope to be sent into space by NASA, and the successor to the Hubble, is the James Webb telescope, named after the first NASA Administrator, who helped pioneer many major developments in space exploration and in the scientific use of spacecraft data. It is, same as the Hubble, a reflector telescope, but the gold-plated mirror is 6.5 meters across, so a shade short of three times larger than the Hubble’s 2.4 meters mirror.
        Because, unlike the Hubble, the Webb will be able to “see” light from orange to mid-infrared, it should be possible to observe with it objects much farther away and, therefore, much closer to the time of the Big Bang, as their light wavelengths have been stretched by the expansion of the universe, over more than 13 billion years, to those longer than the near-infrared that is the limit of the light the Hubble can detect.

        Being primarily an infrared telescope, it has to be kept very cold, to avoid its own heat from corrupting the data. This will be achieved using an ingenious cooling system that can work for much longer, prolonging the spacecraft life also for much longer than those of the liquid-helium cooled ones built and deployed so far, as their helium evaporates and eventually runs out.
        It will also be capable of detecting water and molecules such as those of oxygen, CO2 and methane, that when found together, are important signs of possible life, at least of the kind we can find here on Earth. These, complemented with the capacity to determine if a planet around a distant star has an atmosphere holds the promise of finding planets, perhaps many, with potential life on them.

        When it reaches its destination, the telescope will orbit at some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, beyond the orbit of the Moon, at the L2 Lagrange point, that is situated on the same line as the centers of the Earth and the Sun, so it is going around the Sun, together with the Earth, once per year.

        Started in 1996 and after 25 years of delays, cost overruns, for a total of some 10 billion dollars, it is expected to launch atop a rocket later this year, 2021, on the 31st of October:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope

        How Well Can the Webb Telescope Detect Signs of Exoplanet Life?

        At the same time, already making observations since 2013 and with an expect useful life to last until at least 2022, the European Space Agency (ESA) has in operation GAIA, a spacecraft designed to find many more stars and galaxies than are known so far and, through the observation of their occultations (when a planet passing between the observer and its star causes the light of the star to dim noticeably) it is expected to find many more planets and also detect the atmospheres of those that have them, at least in some cases.

        https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Gaia_overview

        Gaia is also positioned, as will the Webb, at the L2 Lagrange point. Actually not just at one and the same geometrical point, but with both in a region around the theoretical point where the combined gravitational pulls of the Sun and the Earth on the spacecraft is stronger than it would be that of the Sun’s alone, so it is the same as that of the Sun on the Earth, hence anything there will orbit the Sun right along with the Earth and at a constant distance from it, which is convenient for communicating and sending commands from the mission’s control center and for downloading telemetry and the the data of its observations from it. This means that each telescope will be able to keep pointing, and gathering light, from the same objects for much longer than the Hubble, that makes a complete turn around the Earth every hour and a half. Both Webb and Gaia will also look constantly away from the Sun, their heat shields always facing it, so their observations will not be affected by the Earth or the Moon’s eclipses of the Sun.

        https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/754/what-is-a-lagrange-point/

         

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

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        • #2355510
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Well, something went less than very well with the link to the EOS article ( published by the American Geophysical Union) that turned out to be one of those big “picture” ones I had no time to fix by turning it into a one-line brown one, before running out of editing time. (The link to the EOS article is in the main title, at the top of the picture) Also I did not get in the middle of the text  the picture showing the mirrors of the Hubble and Web telescopes for comparison. But one can still see it in all its glory by clicking either of the two (???) little ones at the bottom of the previous comment.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          • #2355535
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Further on the weird EOS link: After some browser-experimenting, I’ve discovered that the problem with the EOS article’s link only happens with Waterfox and Firefox, both closely related browsers, but it is OK with Chrome.  In fact, with Waterfox “Classic”, latest version (a browser I most often use) the “picture” link does not actually even work, although it does with FF.

            Now, back to something more interesting.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2355897
        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        . Even so, we need to be thinking about how to find inhabitable planets to ease the burden on Earth from an ever increasing, resource depleting, human population.

        That would be a near impossibility. How would we ever get millions of people out of our gravity well and safely to another planet? Even with one of those cables like the Mars trilogy Oscar mentioned (excellent books BTW). Like superyachts for the very very rich. And the crew and those desperate enough to accept what ever the corporations funding them wants them to accept will be there. With a very hierarchical and well controlled society at first.

        While evolution, over many generations, might bring about actual bodily adaptations, people will be able to live and work on those strange and life-unfriendly places well enough for a long time even without such physical changes.

        Evolution ? Crispr is only the beginning. Colonists will be modified to suit.
        The future will continue to be an ‘interesting time’.
        Of course ours is too.

        🚀😁

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by wavy.
      • #2355956
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Wavy: “How would we ever get millions of people out of our gravity well and safely to another planet?

        Short answer: we never shall.

        Longer answer: People, even in the 23rd century, while they will have Galaxy-Class starships to go visit, or to fight with those from other worlds across most of the our galaxy (except for one quadrant), nevertheless shan’t have any plans to move the inhabitants of, for example, San Francisco, where the Federation headquarters will be based, to some other nice and still only lightly inhabited planets. So people, to even get to that kind of 23rd Century, will have to take care better of the present real state and see to fix the mess we are making of it. Or else there won’t be any of that two or three centuries hence.

        But a big migration to elsewhere is not the same as gradually, through exploration and what is learned in the course of it, figuring out how to live and then start new societies that can prosper in other worlds of our own Solar System, however unpromising these worlds might look to us now. Which is just possible, with a lot of hard work, good planning and sacrifice, and, in my opinion, also the best thing to do.

        As to using the CRISPR technique to create enhanced humans that can live in other worlds unsalubrious to plain old-model humans:

        https://www.synthego.com/blog/crispr-movies-tv

        And also some news about KSR:

        https://www.wired.com/story/kim-stanley-robinson-red-moon/

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2356032
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        they will have Galaxy-Class starships to go visit other worlds across most of the our galaxy

        Are you suggesting they will have worked out how to bypass the laws of physics to get there?

        cheers, Paul

        • #2356092
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          No, just joking.

          But who knows.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2356041
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        So people, to even get to that kind of 23rd Century, will have to take care better of the present real state and see to fix the mess we are making of it. Or else there won’t be any of that two or three centuries hence.

        There is no way that 20 Billion people will manage to live in the 23rd Century, take care of environment, manage to feed everyone, live in peace…

        • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Alex5723.
        • #2356074
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          There is no way that 20 Billion people will manage to live in the 23rd Century, take care of environment, manage to feed everyone, live in peace…

          I agree.  Personally, unless something miraculous happens soon, I don’t see humankind managing to survive very far into the 21st century.  Sorry, but what I’m seeing presently does not bode well for the survival of humans.

      • #2356086
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        I very much doubt that there will be 20 billion humans on Earth in a couple of centuries from now, or even the current eight billion. Whether this comes by voluntary reduction of the population, or by war, famine, Nature taking steps to keep things manageable whether people like it or not, I don’t see us ever getting there in population.

        However, what I really like to do here is to look at possibilities, assuming we’ll muddle through to a situation where there will be still enough people, with enough technological means at their disposal and the determination to go forth and and populate other worlds in the Solar System. Also about the astronomical mysteries awaiting for resolution: Planet X being one of several.

        Leaving out things that are suspected rather than known for a fact, such as dark matter and dark energy (those are topics for a different discussion, on cosmology), how about rocks from other star systems shooting through ours and close enough to the Sun to be also close to us as they speed through in and out of the Solar System?

        I was reading in a recent issue of “New Scientist” (delayed on its way from the UK by a couple of issues already, thanks to the COVID mail slow-down, among other reasons) that some astronomers have calculated that there may be close to seven of those shooting by every year, and some might be coming from planetary systems outside of our own galaxy, if their speeds are high enough to not be gravitationaly bound to our Milky Way (more than 530 kilometers per second; if coming from our own, instead, up to no more than around 100 km/s).

        Two such alien objects have been spotted already: the asteroid Oumuamua, in 2017 and the comet Borisov, in 2019. And that without looking for such objects, but found by sheer luck.

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2021/03/15/seven-alien-space-rocks-may-pass-through-our-solar-system-every-year-and-we-need-to-intercept-one/?sh=2d7d01145576

         

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • #2356107
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          Thank you Oscar for being an optimist. This world certainly needs many optimists to pull pessimists like me out of our negativity.  A natural, non-man-made object traveling through space at roughly half the speed of light is encouraging. It makes one wonder what force threw it that fast.  Dark matter and dark energy are also very worthy things to get acquainted with, and we should make every effort to do so!

      • #2356111
        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        nevertheless shan’t have any plans to move the inhabitants of, for example, San Francisco,

        This now reminds me of a series I read as a teenager; the James Blish Cities in Flight books. There in whole cities lift themselves of of Earth into space when they get tired of the same ol same bs on Earth.

        Such a thing would force a big revision in the text books

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
      • #2356137
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Paul_T made this comment and asked a good question:

        they will have Galaxy-Class starships to go visit other worlds across most of the our galaxy

        Are you suggesting they will have worked out how to bypass the laws of physics to get there?

        My answer:

        No, just joking. But who knows.

         

        Well, maybe someone does know.

        And knows how to do it without bypassing the laws of physics — as far as anyone can tell:

        There are some solutions of Einstein’s General Relativity differential equations that allow, in theory, to travel from A to B faster than light, and so “at warp speed.”

        The idea is that, according to General Relativity, portions of space itself can travel faster than light relative to the rest of the Cosmos: bubbles of space can go faster. The speed of light is the limit in flat space-time, where Special Relativity applies. A bubble will be a manifestation of curved space-time.

        If there is a starship within such a bubble (with its crew, passengers and the machinery needed to create the bubble (dilithium-crystals based?) this ship will move along with the bubble, but inside the bubble its speed will be what is needed only to maneuver around, therefore insignificant compared to the speed of light. Insignificant relative to the interior of the bubble, that is, this interior being all the space that matters from the point of view of the ship and those traveling inside it.

        One approach is the Alcubierre drive:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

        Another, more recent one, is a different kind of drive that uses the same basic principle of creating a space bubble, but by different, more feasible means:

        https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a35820869/warp-drive-possible-with-conventional-physics/

        “Feasible” is used here only in a relative sense: this new drive needs smaller amounts of immense quantities of energy than the Alcubierre one; but smaller quantities of something immense can still be pretty immense and, in this case, it is.

        So, as I wrote further up in this comment, these are hypothetical solutions to faster-than-light travel. But, nevertheless, are based on the best science available — which is better than nothing.

        Give scientists another two centuries, and who knows what they’ll come up with.

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        • #2356272
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          Here you go Oscar and all interested parties –

          A new experiment has broken the known rules of physics, hinting at a mysterious, unknown force that has shaped our universe.

          https://www.businessinsider.com/muon-experiment-physics-hidden-force-universe-2021-4

          I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy reading about this.  Maybe we won’t have to wait for another two centuries.

          • #2356318
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Charlie: “A new experiment has broken the known rules of physics, hinting at a mysterious, unknown force that has shaped our universe.”

            Well, those rules have been known for quite a long time to be not the whole story. The problem here is not just that, but that many attempts to figure out what is wrong and, or missing have turned nothing interesting so far. Mostly they have disproven some of the proposed ways of extending the current foundations of physics to build a better set of theories that explain more of what is observed, including those funny spinning muons (which it turns out they had already been noticed to do that twenty years ago, but with less precise measurements, so people saw it and said: “Yes, funny that. Maybe someone (else) should look into it.”

            According to these reliable sources, the current situation is as follows:

            Business Insider article:

            Theorists would find it [the evidence for maybe a new fundamental force from the Fermilab experiment] appealing to solve more than one problem at once,” Teubner said.

            One hypothesis that could apply to both muons and dark matter, he added, is that muons and all other particles have almost identical partner particles that weakly interact with them. This concept is known as supersymmetry.”

            But Fermilab’s existing technologies aren’t sensitive enough to test that idea. Plus, Teubner added, it’s could be the case that the mysterious influence on muons isn’t linked to dark matter at all — which would mean the rules of physics are inadequate in more ways than one.

            Wkipedia:

            There is no experimental evidence that supersymmetry is correct, or whether or not other extensions to current models might be more accurate. It is only since around 2010 that particle accelerators specifically designed to study physics beyond the Standard Model have become operational (i.e. the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and it is not known where exactly to look, nor the energies required for a successful search.

            The main reasons for supersymmetry being supported by some physicists is that the current theories are known to be incomplete and their limitations are well established, and supersymmetry could be an attractive solution to some of the major concerns.

            Angel (vampire&nicest boyfriend of Buffy, the VS, who got a series of its own and lovely and self-infatuated Cordelia along with it):

            Supersymmetry can be used by villains to kill people:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersymmetry_(Angel)

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      • #2357451
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Now, about the idea, already mentioned here by Wavy, of using CRISPR, or some other gene-editing technique to make modified humans that are better adapted to live in other places than Earth in the Solar System, places that are invariably inimical to life as we know it, except, perhaps, for a few such as Mars, where some very hardy terrestrial microbial forms might survive if introduced by us:

        https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210412-the-genetic-mistakes-that-could-shape-our-species

        Excerpts:

        However, this [using CRISPR to edit human genes to remove undesirable parts of them] doesn’t always go to plan. The mix-up with the edited Chinese babies [in an illegal experiment, with the experimenter now in jail] occurred because of so-called “off-target effects”, where the Crispr system bound to a sequence that just so happened to look similar to the one it was supposed to be cutting. It’s a common problem – one recent study found that editing caused unintended changes more than half the time.

        …..

        Given the how little we know about the functions of certain genes in our current environment, Saha [an expert on bioengineering techniques, including CRISPR, at Winsconsin-Madison University in the USA] believes we must be extra cautious when making potentially millennia-straddling changes. “I’m surprised every day, but how many different functions genes have – I try to be as humble as possible in terms of assuming that I know everything that a particular gene variant mutation would do in a human cell,” he says. “These are genes that have been involved in our genome for thousands of years, if not longer – so for us to know how they will function for humans in varying contexts for the next hundred years really is a challenge “

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        • #2357656
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          Oh darn, I was hoping someday they would be able to modify our genes to make hair grow on the top of our head again, and also to grow a third set of teeth.

      • #2357662
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        Ever since I got to around the age of 65, I’ve been thinking what a shame it is that Mars is such an inhospitable planet.  It would make an excellent place for older people to retire to because of it’s lower gravity.

        • #2357667
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Charlie and those who want, at the barest minimum, to keep growing full manes until they are 200:

          Perhaps something more dependable than CRISPR (at least in its present form) for enhancing humans to be better adapted to life in other planets, moons, asteroids, comets, or in those orbiting habitats much used as the location for science-fiction stories, might be already available by the year 2201. So, along with faster-than light-travel there might be such enhancement techniques available as well.

          But one should not expect that those enhancements will allow people to live without some kind of special protective equipment in the vacuum of outer space, or on an airless world, or at temperatures near absolute zero, or breathing methane, or under pressures of thousands of atmospheres, because always some measure of protection against positively lethal conditions will be needed. Just not as many, or necessarily all the time, as would be needed for us ordinary ones.

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          • #2357675
            Charlie
            AskWoody Plus

            But one should not expect that those enhancements will allow people to live without some kind of special protective equipment in the vacuum of outer space, or on an airless world, or at temperatures near absolute zero, or breathing methane, or under pressures of thousands of atmospheres, because always some measure of protection against positively lethal conditions will be needed.

            I would never expect such drastic modifications.  Mars is Mars, and we will have to make do the best we can if we manage to get there someday.

      • #2358634
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        When it comes to moving very fast to cross the vast distances between remote parts of the Universe, including those far away from us, but still within our own Solar System, such as Planet X (or else a grapefruit-sized black hole?), there are several propositions based on theories that have been neither proven nor disproven, because it would take equipment impossible to build at present with the means available.

        Earlier I mentioned a pair of similar ideas of different theoretical implementation: the Alcubierre and the Lenz drives, that warp space-time in such a way as to create strangely shaped “bubbles” in it that can travel faster than light (at literally warp speed), but inside them a spaceship speed is measured relative to the interior of its surrounding bubble, so  it would move at normal speeds inside there, so at far less than that of light. Neither drive, used to propel a vessel, would violate either the Special or the General theory of Relativity, so they are OK in this sense. The problem with both is that to create the bubbles takes an immense amount of energy, plus the Alcubierre one requires the use of a kind of matter called strange matter, because it is strange and nobody knows who to make it. But, again, nobody has been able, so far, to prove or disprove that it is possible to do any of this, if one leaves aside some rather severe practical problems.

        But there are more uses to unusual kinds of matter to propel spaceships very fast and far away.

        The one least heard of, maybe because it is truly very odd, is the one based on negative matter. Negative matter has negative mass, so it does gravitationaly repel, not attract, normal matter. But this works both ways: the negative matter is equally repelled. However, being of negative mass also means that when pushed in one direction it accelerates in the opposite direction. The end result is that if one has two masses, one positive and the other negative, the normal one will be repelled and accelerate away from the negative one, but the negative one, being equally pushed away, will move toward the normal one with an acceleration that will be equal to that of the normal mass, if both masses, signs aside, are equal. So one mass will chase the other in the direction from the negative one to the positive one, keeping always the same distance from it, with both continuously accelerating … for ever, is there is nothing to stop them. Which is a bit awkward when it comes to maneuvering and navigating from point A to point B, landing safely on B and then staying there for a while. But there may be ways to do it, assuming that there is such thing as negative mass, to start with. And that is unknown:

        https://medium.com/predict/negative-matter-propulsion-1e4bbb26c6a8

        The issue has been argued for and against, now and then, for many years already, in a sort of on again and off and on again controversy:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_interaction_of_antimatter

        A different approach using a different kind of strange matter, and also an idea often used as a plot device in science fiction stories, is the antimatter rocket. This has been studied, also now and then, in a scientific way, to see if there is some form to exploit its potential for making it possible to go to Mars, for example, in less than a week, rather than in six months with present day chemical rockets. That is, six months with the passengers and crew living in very crowded conditions (the spaceship would have to be small, so light enough, to go anywhere near Mars at all) for such a very long time; so there is always a question of how many will survive after all the killing stops, when Mars is finally reached, assuming there are enough crew members left capable of landing the craft.

        Antimatter is made of subatomic particles with positive mass but opposite electric charge to normal particles. So matter and antimatter come in pairs: the positron and electron, for example. For reasons not yet understood, there is a lot less antimatter than matter, but antimatter can actually be made by people and it gets made, if in very small quantities, for example using big atom smashers, such as the CERN Supercollider in Europe. It also occurs naturally, as a result of energetic processes in the Universe.

        Matter and antimatter annihilate mutually when they come in contact, releasing an energy equal to their combined masses multiplied by the speed of light squared. That energy can be released in a controlled way, by using just enough of the weird stuff, to heat some appropriate substance to the point of vaporizing it into a very high temperature gas that is then allowed to escape trough a nozzle, propelling the ship. The result would be a steady acceleration, low enough to be tolerated by those traveling on the ship, but continuously applied, so  in a matter of a few days a very great speed can be reached. Then the ship  can be turned around, so the thrust will now decelerate it just as constantly, until reaching a low enough speed to first orbit Mars and then go down to the ground.  A very small amount of antimatter, a few pounds, could be enough to take a spaceship to Mars in a matter of days and an even slightly smaller amount would be enough to come back to Earth (Mars having a lower gravity than Earth.)

        Now and then this antimatter rocket idea has been studied seriously but, so far, with no practical consequences, such as people actually “starting to bend metal” to build an antimatter rocket ship. Here is one example of one such a study from the early 2000’s:

        https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/home/antimatter_spaceship.html

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      • #2359010
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        The Martian rover “Perseverance”, now undergoing tests on the floor of an ancient crater before setting off on trips of exploration, carried with it a small helicopter specially designed to fly in the very thin atmosphere of Mars. This small rotor craft, left at some distance from where the rover is now during a previous trip of the latter, has had a successful first controlled test flight under actual Martian conditions. This first test lasted just under one minute and started and ended on pretty much the same spot.
        By “controlled test flight” meaning: “following the flight plan sent previously from Earth and navigating accordingly on its own by using a down-looking camera to sense its movement relative to the ground, as any commands from Earth now take some 16 minutes to reach Mars.”

        This a really big deal, because if the tests planned in days ahead also go well enough to begin seriously to learn how to fly anything on Mars, people included, this could well be the start of the evolution of Martian aeronautics. Both crewed and drone flying machines will be immensely helpful in getting around at significant distances from a base camp and to gather information from the air on spots that might be visited later by humans, something either impossible or very difficult to do if the only means of transportation available are either slow and tricky-to-drive across broken terrain Martian buggies, or else going on foot.
        Science fiction literature has many stories where settlers on Mars fly around to get things done that would not be possible otherwise. Now flying on Mars may be about to become more than science fiction-story material.

        https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-56799755

        Excerpt:

        Getting airborne on the Red Planet is not easy. The atmosphere is very thin, just 1% of the density here at Earth. This gives the blades on a rotorcraft very little to bite into to gain lift.

        There’s help from the lower gravity at Mars, but still – it takes a lot of work to get up off the ground.

        Ingenuity was therefore made extremely light and given the power (a peak power of 350 watts) to turn those blades extremely fast – at over 2,500 revolutions per minute for this particular flight.

        Control was autonomous. The distance to Mars – currently just under 300 million km – means radio signals take minutes to traverse the intervening space. Flying by joystick is simply out of the question.

        Asked whether she was surprised the flight had worked, MiMi Aung (*) said: “No, I’m not. We really had nailed the equations, the models and the verification here on Earth in our laboratory tests. So, it then became a question of: have we chosen the right materials to build Ingenuity, to survive the space environment, to survive the Mars environment?” “

        ” The Perseverance rover was watching and snapping away from a distance of 65m. Its full-sequence video can be seen at the top of this page.

        (*) The project manager for Ingenuity at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

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      • #2359046
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Still on the subject of extra-terrestrial flying machines: developing them for Mars could be just the beginning. Of the eight planets, only Mercury and Neptune lack substantial atmospheres. And of planetary moons, Titan, the giant moon of Saturn, has a substantial one of methane. The main problem for flying there is not the lack of enough air of a kind, but the ambient temperature: hundreds of degrees hotter than in the Tropics here, near the surface of Venus, cold enough to freeze most gases in the upper layers of the rest of them, very far from the Sun. Also, none of these atmospheres is made of a breathable air humans and their animals can live on.

        Those issues aside, there are in the atmospheres of those planets and of Titan, sufficiently below their very tops, air that is dense enough to allow, not just the flight of Martian-like aircraft, but also of airplanes and even balloons designed on most of the same basic principles, with the same design tables and even the same software used here on Earth, because the atmospheric pressures, at the right altitudes, are similar to terrestrial ones.

        Also in Venus and some of the worlds beyond Mars, at the right altitudes, not just air pressure, but also gravity would be about the same as on and near our own planet’s surface, making life there more convenient, if the very cold and unbreathable air can be taken care of by building adequate life-support systems.

        That would mean that, with advanced enough techniques — and enough good luck — in a matter of several generations from now there could be research bases, personal and goods and passenger transporting aircraft, as well as explorer drones, all floating and flying around those planets, gathering information for scientific use and also to learn to further develop those aircraft and those bases, as well as any other practical, commercial and recreational purposes that might be needed or wanted. Looking even further ahead, someday there might be floating factories and even flying cities in some of those distant worlds, if there is by then a good enough reason to have them there. So let’s enjoy the moment, because the first human-made aircraft has flown in another world than Earth.

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      • #2359261
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Black holes with masses comparable to the aggregated masses of billions of stars like our own Sun can produce jets of matter shooting out from diametrically opposite points in contrary directions; these are the most energetic events so far observed in the Universe.
        The origin of these jets is not known, but there are several theories, all incomplete, with no way, until now, to sort them out by rejecting those that do not predict well what is observed, because not enough has been observed.

        New data that has become very recently available supports some of the theories that infer that a very strong magnetic field produced by the ionized super-hot matter circling the black holes before falling into it, forming a huge, flat natural electromagnet, is the main component of the mysterious mechanism that produces those jets, that may form when electrically charged, ionized particles that must follow the highly focused force lines of this field moved together very fast in the same direction, away from each of the magnet’s poles.
        Such evidence has become available after a re-analysis of the data used to get the first picture of a black hole using a number of radio telescopes distributed around the world, so some of them will always be on the side of Earth facing the black hole. The new results show evidence of the existence of such strong fields.

        The new details in the image obtained with the reprocessed data include a swirling pattern in the glowing disk of infalling matter that the scientists involved claim is a clear indication of a very strong magnetic field that could be sufficient to produce those galaxy-size and extremely powerful jets.

        m87_lo_april11_polarimetric_average_image_ml_deband-cc-8bit-srgb

        The signals received by all the telescopes are combined by a mathematical process known as correlation (using digital devices known as correlators to process the huge amounts of data involved, that used to be sent to a project’s processing center in large magnetic tape spools, and now days are delivered mostly over broad-band Internet connections). This system, known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) was originally, and has been for many years by now, used to determine very precisely (to milliarc seconds and to a fraction of an inch, respectively) the orientation of the Earth’s axis in space relative to very distant and very bright galaxies known as “quasars”, along with the speed of Earth’s rotation about this axis, and as well as the positions of the radio telescopes used to collect the data in latitude, longitude and height. This observations are key to defining the International Celestial Reference Frame, or ICRF, of fundamental importance in very precise astronomy, navigation and surveying.

        In the Event Horizon Telescope, the signals are combined so the resulting brightness is that of all the telescopes added up together, and the resolution — or the size of and distance between the smallest and closest-by details that can be seen as separate from each other — being inversely proportional to the diameter of the telescope, real or synthesized, as in this case, is equal to that of a telescope of roughly the diameter of the Earth, or some 12,600 km across (the largest single radio-telescope antennas have radio-wave mirrors shaped as shallow bowls that are, at most, a few hundreds of meters across). There are plans to add more telescopes, to improve the results further.

        Those jets usually stretch away from their black hole  at speeds that are a large percentage of the speed of light. This enormous  speed causes a strange phenomenon, where the jet moving more or less towards us seems to stretch faster than at the speed of light away from its source, something that, if it were real, would not be allowed by Special Relativity (“superluminal” jet) and the one moving in the opposite direction seems to do so at a speed slower than its real one. This is so because the speed of light is the same regardless of the movement of the observer, as long as this is not accelerating or, in practice, hardly doing so, and what we see in this case is entirely ruled by this principle of Special Relativity. The result is an extreme form of Doppler shift where incoming signals from the jet moving our way are not only greatly shifted to a higher frequency (blue shifted) but the information they carry still travels at light speed, so it gets bunched together, from our point of view, and arrive in this way to us. So, if one looked at a series of photos taken at equal intervals from a telescope on Earth, the jets would seem to stretch from one photo to the next by more than if the front of the jet was traveling at the speed of light. The opposite Doppler effect happens with the light coming from the jet moving away from us.
        These massive black-hole jets are extreme events, indeed.

        https://eventhorizontelescope.org/blog/astronomers-image-magnetic-fields-edge-m87s-black-hole

         

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      • #2359287
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve just realized that I left out in my previous comment on the new and more detailed image of a black hole made using data from several radio telescopes distributed across the world, the fact that to obtain it, their data was combined with that of space telescopes, some of which can be used to observe in the near-infrared and visible light, some in the ultraviolet, the x-ray, or the gamma-ray parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, as explained and shown in a video with a link at the beginning of this NASA article at the  Chandra X-Ray mission Web site:

        https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/telescopes-unite-in-unprecedented-observations-of-famous-black-hole.html

        The black hole is situated in the galaxy called “Messier object 87”, or M87, so the black hole is also known as “M87” for short. Name aside, it is some 55 million light years away from us.

        It is the Big Brother of our, so far, speculative and potentially nearest black hole, the size of a grapefruit — so near that it could be actually in orbit inside the Solar System, if very far away from the Sun — that I mentioned in the first entry in this thread as a possible explanation, along with the existence of a new and so far undiscovered planet “X”, for the observed strange orbits of some distant and icy minor planets.

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      • #2359992
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        There are now two projects that could resolve the question of whether there may be an undiscovered Planet X in the in the Kuiper Belt, a huge ring of icy bodies, some nearly as large as Pluto — or perhaps a small “primordial” black hole as old as the Universe itself. One of the two projects, using the Vera C. Rubin Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST for short) being built on a mountain in the desert of Northern Chile, is planned to begin in 2022, when the telescope is ready.

        The other project is more of a “blue-sky” study of a possible future mission using small spacecraft (several, for collecting more data from different locations and for redundancy if one or more went “splat” along the way) equipped with solar sails, so as to be propelled only by the light of the Sun. Since this will accelerate the small spacecrafts continuously, as they will be in sunlight all the time, they could take only about 1 year to get past Neptune, the second farthest away of the larger planets after Uranus (at least ten times sooner than using the usual fuel-propelled rockets) to get, later on, to the region where some small planets have been seen to follow unusual orbits that might, perhaps, because of the gravitational pull of an as yet undiscovered massive body out there that could be a large planet, or a tiny black hole the size of a grapefruit. The small spacecraft could carry cameras to take pictures of whatever is there, as well as collecting other useful data.
        This study is being conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and the person in charge there is Slava Turyshev. The little space probes will be taken inside a larger one to an appropriate point close to the Sun to be released there in their correct direction, so their initial acceleration will be very great, propelled by the great intensity of sunlight so near to its source. This type of mission has a number of other potential applications, including the use of relativistic gravitational focusing of light from stars appearing near the edge of the Sun and caused by its great gravitational field, to create images of planets around those stars large and detailed enough to see what their surfaces look like and to analyze the light they reflect from their stars to figure out the chemical composition of their atmospheres of those that have any, that might carry indications of possible life there. I have not found a site with a good article that can be browsed there, but a PDF of an easy-to-read White Paper published by the US Academy of Sciences (*) with a description of several, quite different potential uses of these small solar-sail propelled spacecraft, written by those involved in this project, can be downloaded from here:

        https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2005/2005.12336.pdf

        The LSST project, on the other hand, will be taking successive camera shots of the same, very large region of the sky. This survey will bring new information on such occasional events as supernovae, over much of the observable universe. Anything that moves will appear at different places from one shot to the next, while the far stars will remain in virtually the same places. One reason for the changes in position is the fact that the objects in question will be actually moving, another reason is the fact that the Earth will be positioned in different places along its orbit, and even a nearby object will seem to be moving relative to the stars, because of the parallax effect. This effect will be periodical, with the same repeat frequency of once per year as the Earth orbit, while the actual motion of a far away object will a very slightly curved arch, so the two can be separated, given a sufficiently long observing time. The parallax signal also can be useful for figuring out how far is the object from Earth.
        The LSST will take pictures of unprecedented resolution that will generate petabytes of data every year and require complex software and teraflops of processing power to analyze.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_C._Rubin_Observatory

        https://www.planetary.org/articles/lsst-evolution-small-body-science

        (*) EXPLORATION OF THE OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM WITH FAST AND SMALL SAILCRAFT, a White Paper published by the US National Academy of Sciences on a project proposed for inclusion in The Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032.

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      • #2363046
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Well, this is more like tally-ho, the Moon is afoot! But it is really: first the Moon, then the Solar System!

        back.on_.firm_.ground-and.made_.no_.crater.this_.time_

        Because, this time, SpaceX’s aspiring “Starship” did not make a crater, of which there are enough on the Moon already, thank you very much, but ended as expected, sitting on its skinny butt:

        https://apnews.com/article/spacex-business-science-f4f99c5036257e48be791a336bffd183

        SpaceX launched and successfully landed its futuristic Starship on Wednesday, finally nailing a test flight of the rocketship that Elon Musk intends to use to land astronauts on the moon and send people to Mars.

        And there is this too:

        Less than a month ago, NASA chose SpaceX’s Starship to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface in the next few years. The $3 billion contract was halted last week, however, after the losing companies — Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics — protested the selection.

        Company lawyers, you know …

        For more information, watch “Saturday Night Live” this coming Saturday (if you are, by chance, in or nearby these US of A) and see the Musk himself do whatever he will do there.

         

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      • #2364939
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        And now for some scarily interesting news about what is out there that could get us down here. For good.

        There has been some speculation as to what could happen if there is not a planet X but a black hole the size of a grapefruit, approximately of the mass of the Earth, out in the Kuiper belt, causing some planetoids there to follow otherwise inexplicably elongated orbits. So someone had the following comment in a recent issue of “New Scientist” (quoting from memory) : “What would happen if there is a black hole out there, not a planet, and something nudged it into falling into the Sun, as happens with comets sometimes? Probably nothing good, I fear.” Well, not really good: the black hole will start  by sucking in the immediately surrounding stuff inside the Sun, and grow larger and heavier, with a correspondingly stronger gravitational field to pull in more and more stuff in, until it runs out of stuff, and we of Sun.

        Another unlikely but disturbing possibility: there is an antistar out there, and it runs by us so close that it and the Sun are attracted to each other until they fall into each other and blow up themselves into a blast of hard radiation, along with the whole Solar System, and us with it. Because when matter meets antimatter, they annihilate each other with a stupendous release of energy, as all of their matter, positive and negative alike, turns into energy.

        But why bother with antistars? Nobody thinks they exist, because the accepted ideas of how everything up there came to be rules out such objects forming at all. But recent observations with Fermi, a space telescope for observing in the ultraviolet, have revealed 14 sources of ultraviolet radiation that fit the expect spectrum of what these stars, if they existed, would radiate as normal matter falls into them and annihilate along with some of their own antimatter. People may not believe that antistars exist, but they also do not ignore sound, if strangely suggestive, evidence; instead, they try to examine that evidence themselves, to test if the odd claims made by someone based on them may fit what is observed. If antistars existed, that would require a deep and serious overturning of many things accepted as correct about astrophysics and, consequently, about physics. If it ever came to this, then that would be an interesting day, indeed. And there things stand at the moment.

        https://physics.aps.org/articles/v14/s50

        One separate piece of corroborative evidence is the possible detection of antihelium atoms with an instrument installed on top of the International Space Station. Normal matter stars obtain their energy to get very hot and produce lots of light and other radiation, by converting hydrogen into helium by fusing pairs of atoms of the first to make one atom apiece of the second. Antistars would, theoretically, do the same thing by fusing antihydrogen to produce antihelium and in this way generate their heat and light.

        Are antimatter stars firing bullets of antihelium at Earth?

        But antistars would look to the naked eye, or through a telescope, just like ordinary stars,  “it is not like: “look, they are green!”, as someone was quoted as saying in the article in New Scientist.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

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